Stimulus payment for 4 million Americans to arrive by prepaid debit card

Instead of direct deposit or even a paper check, four million people will find their stimulus payment arrive in the form of a prepaid debit card.

The IRS set a deadline of May 13 to enter your direct deposit information if you hadn't already received your stimulus payment and wanted it placed directly in your account. Those who didn't will find their stimulus payment arrive in the form of a pre-paid debit card from MetaBank.

The cards, unlike the checks, will not come from the treasury department. Instead they will come in a plain white envelope directly from MetaBank.

You can use the card to withdraw cash. You can use it like a debit card to pay rent or make purchases. You can also shop online.


Beware: Just like a traditional debit card linked to your checking account, this one may have fees associated with it depending on how you use it. Out of network ATMs carry a $2 fee each time other than the first time you use one. That fee is on top of whatever the out of network ATM charges you itself.

Fortunately, the card carries a list of free in-network ATMs on its app and website, so it should be pretty easy to avoid this fee.

There is a $5 fee for taking the card to the bank and withdrawing money more than once. To avoid it, withdraw your entire balance at one time if you need the cash in hand or have the balance transferred to your own bank account. That also is free.

The tool you will want to keep handy is the mobile app or website. It will not only break down these and other fees for you, but it will also allow you to check your balance so you know exactly how much money you have to spend.

When you call the toll free number to activate your card, they will ask you for personal information.

If you prefer a pre-paid card instead of a check, you cannot request one. It will either arrive or it won’t.

Once the card is activated, your privacy is protected. For those wondering if the government will track what you buy, the answer is no.